FOMO linked to student alcohol issues, research suggests

FOMO linked to student alcohol issues, research suggests

The "fear of missing out" (FOMO) has been linked to alcohol and alcohol-related issues, new data from University of Otago psychology researchers suggests.

The researchers have published what is believed to be the first study on the topic and alcohol issues in the journal Annals of Neuroscience and Psychology.

The university researchers say FOMO can manifest itself as a form of social anxiety.

A total of 432 students participated in two studies, where they took a psychometric test to measure their FOMO level and completed an alcohol consequences questionnaire.

In the first study, students were asked about their alcohol use over the past 30 days and in the second study alcohol use was reported on a daily basis over a fortnight.

The 10-item validated FOMO scale asked participants how strongly they agreed with statements such as "when I miss out on a planned get-together it bothers me" and "I fear others have more rewarding experiences than me".

Department of Psychology PhD candidate and study co-author Jayde Flett says those who scored highly on the FOMO scale reported twice as many instances of alcohol-related negative consequences over the past three months than those low in the trait.

She says the study shows those who scored higher on the scale for both studies do not necessarily drink more but do experience greater negative fallout from drinking.

These negative experiences were related to social and emotional wellbeing such as feeling badly about oneself, making impulsive decisions and not being able to remember large stretches of the night.

Additionally, they were more likely to have had less energy and had a hangover, Ms Flett says.

The second broader study shows those higher in FOMO are more likely to have taken foolish risks, be rude or obnoxious and drink on nights they hadn't planned to.

Ms Flett and her co-authors concluded that "to reduce alcohol-related harm within the student population, it may be important to address social factors such as FOMO that may drive people towards riskier behaviour surrounding alcohol use."

The study was supported through the Health Research Council of New Zealand.

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